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I often get to see players that always want a reward for a quest or a battle, would it be gold or items. They usually try to get the most money out of someone who is giving them a quest, even if their characters are Good. Here is how it goes commonly:

Me (Playing an old lord) : "Adventurers! I have called you on this day to help me with a task of the utmost importance! My daughter is being held captive by Lord McBaddy! Please! Help me get her out of her custody! I will give you one of my family's heritage as a reward.

Player 1 (A knight) : We shall save you daughter, old man! by my hand will thee Lord McBaddy fall!

Player 2 (A priest) : Can you talk a bit more about who is that Lord McBaddy?

Player 3 (A ranger) : Come on! The life of your daughter is worth more than that, give us at least 2000 gp extra and we'll do the job.

My true problem is that these players try to amass a giant wealth without ever using it. They even, sometimes, complain about their character, thinking that they are underpowered while not willing to buy anything powerful. They may ruin relations too, asking a kind guy for a lot of money is not always well seen.

These players also tend to forget about the roleplay and focus more on their personal possessions and on ways to exploit the system to get more money.

A bit of "My guy" syndrome may go with it when some players say that "My character is greedy, that's why he always want money and doesn't want to spend it."

What should I do to get those players more into the roleplay or counter the side-effects for the rest of the group?

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11 Answers 11

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Off Table

I will always advocate discussing these kind of issues with your players outside of the game. Find the reason why your problem player has built his character this way and what his end goal is. That way the two of you could work together towards it.

If it is a case where it is just going to continually disrupt the game, give the player an option of creating a new character and letting the "greedy" one leave the party in a way that makes sense. Maybe even coming back as a villain later proving the evils of greed.

On Table

How are they carting around all this gold? Coins are bulky, make a lovely clinking noise inside a purse, and also a loud rattling noise when kept in backpacks.

Have the party constantly plagued by beggars, shop keeps, religious orders, etc. This won't dissuade them from seeking more of a reward, but smarter ways to carry it. This might mean, from your example above, they may be more willing to accept the heirloom without asking for a coin bonus.

Their greed could then (if it continues) start to have an in-game effect. Divine characters could start receiving attention from other gods. For example a cleric of Bahamut has just used a divine spell:

As the radiant light spreads forth from your holy symbol you notice that it is not the brilliant blue of the Dragon Fathers scales. It is the blood red of Tiamat's corruption and you feel a change within.

Primal characters could start seeing visions of extinction or other such horrific consequences of imbalancing nature due to greed.

You see in your dreams that night a great hunt, you are apart of it. You catch your quarry and it fills you with joy. You kill again, and again, and again. Finally you sit atop a mound of hides and carcasses, rotting in the sun, looking out across the plain for your next kill

Martial, Psionic, and Arcane would be more difficult to take this approach but maybe something specific to their backstory could inspire something. Finally start to change alignments, and have the effects of that trickle in. If that is the approach you go with, prehaps be ready to shift to an evil campaign.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Don't forget thieves. PCs are not the only greedy folks in the world. \$\endgroup\$ – Joel Harmon Sep 30 '16 at 10:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ The occasional greedy shopkeep could be useful as well. If the players ever buy anything, bump the prices on these items (potions, rooms at the inn, everything). The clever shopkeeper would know his visitors are incredibly wealthy adventurers and raise his prices especially for them. \$\endgroup\$ – clyde Sep 30 '16 at 16:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for @JoelHarmon 's "Don't forget thieves". PCs walking around with fat, jangling coin purses or lots of shinies strapped to their backs and belts may as well have a "Silent Image" of an archery target cast on their heads. \$\endgroup\$ – Doktor J Oct 4 '16 at 4:56
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Rewards don't have to be gold.

Many questgivers would simply not have 50,000 gold pieces lingering around at any given moment to give players as a reward. Instead Give them (magic) items as rewards. Some NPCs might have magic items they're willing to part with. This way the players can't sit on a pile of treasure. This also gives you some control about the magic items they get. Yes, they could sell the magic items and sit on the gold anyway but if you give them items they're interested in they're likely to keep them. This also slowly teaches them what items they can use and which items they can't.

Alternatively, giving rewards like: Reputation, privileges or favors could also be acceptable. Giving PCs rewards specifically crafted for their character is fun. A new spell for the wizard, a special weapon for the fighter, you name it.

Different types of quests for different rewards

Quests don't have to be given by questgivers. You could play into the backstory of the PCs, assuming they have written some. If the rogue has been in a gang in the past maybe an old enemy has shown up wanting revenge. Or a old friend is in need of help. You could still reward them by giving the players loot which they earned in combat. Teach them that the lord is not their only source of income. And they'll be less likely to push for every penny.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for the alternate rewards comment. Still think that on OOC discussion be made first. In OP's example, when the Ranger asks for gold the Lord would say "Ah allas young ranger, but I've already spent much of my savings trying to get my daughter back and any further spending would see me bankrupt, perhaps another reward would suffice. In addition to the Heirloom, my family is also in possession of an ancient bow, many man-at-arms have attempted to wield it, but have been unsuccessful, perhaps if my daughter is returned safely, you will be able to unlock it's secrets." \$\endgroup\$ – John Grabanski Sep 30 '16 at 15:41
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Use their tendencies

If the characters have shown themselves as people motivated by greed? Use it. Offer grand cash rewards for questionable quests. Have Lord Macbaddy offer them a lot more gold if they leave him alone. If some parts of the party has shown themselves susceptible for the lure of gold, they have given you a simple and useful lever to drive them. I don't know your GMing style or your players, but some inter-party friction can promote some nice roleplaying.

Abuse their tendencies

They are liable to haggle for every gold piece? Well, quest-givers are people too, they can say no. they might even get annoyed and actually lower the reward the longer they try. Or they simply won't pay them afterwards. Or it turns out the priceless diamond they are paid with is glass. Don't be afraid to pull tricks on your players, as long as you give a way or an opportunity for them to try and collect the debt/take bloody revenge I'm pretty sure they will be satisfied.

Disregard their tendencies

So they crave gold? Not all quests and quest givers can offer gold. A village of peasants won't have more gold than they offered, because that's all they have. Sure, if the party accepts payment in vegetables, they could shell out more, but cold, hard cash is not something they have in abundance. The strange wizard looking for ingredients won't offer the amount of gold that would buy even half the offered magic items. Make the quest reward itself, in the classic "you can keep what you find" manner. Or simply make sure that there are things they need more than gold on the line when they ask about the rewards (a favor, land, rank, survival etc.) and cut out the problem at its root.

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Just occasionally, asking for payment is a sensible negotiating tactic

When someone you've never heard of has summoned you, and is demanding that you set off on an ill-defined mission, because he's important and you thus have to do what he says ... cynicism can be useful.

Going down to a very basic level of reward discussion can be a useful reminder that the quest-giver should be at least explaining what's known about the problem, so that the party can figure out who and what they need to take with them, like sensible people. It makes the world more real, and improves everyone's commitment to the story. Provided, that is, that the DM understands this is a reminder that details matter in setting up a good story for the players to interact with.

I'm not saying that this is the OP's problem, but it's worth considering if it might be.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Its not really the "asking for payment" that bothers me, its the focus on money and money alone in the roleplay or when we lose half an hour negotiating about how much should be put on the table while something urgent is happening. I still appreciate the reminder. \$\endgroup\$ – Dastardly Sep 30 '16 at 14:12
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What? I could hire the famous Hank Ironforge with half of that sum. Go away!

In other words, adventurers aren't the only mercenaries or good-willing people of the fictional world, and there's some sort of free competition to keep the prices reasonably low.

Of course, this means that yes, the character might lower his price, but it might also mean that the party loses a lot of hooks you already readied.
Openly tell your player that a similar thing is going to happen and say you're not really interested in playing out the failed hooks.
Have him/her understand that you're supposed to keep the rewards in balance and ask him/her help to run the game smoothly.

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My true problem is that these players try to amass a giant wealth without ever using it.

I fail to see how this is a problem. I could understand if they did use the gold to disturb the balance and cause problems - but if they don't use it, isn't it similar to a player performing acts of selflessness (even if they yield no benefit and they would be better off focusing on other quests)? Is it a problem if a player collects rare stamps or herbs that could be used for potions?

You say that "we lose half an hour negotiating about how much should be put on the table while something urgent is happening" - urgent for whom? If the characters don't feel that it's urgent for them, then it's not, even if you feel that it should be.

They may ruin relations too, asking a kind guy for a lot of money is not always well seen.

Sorry but this is hypocritical. You are basically saying that they shouldn't be greedy and ask for money because it can be more beneficial to maintain a facade and maximise the value of their social networks. That is forgetting roleplayig and minmaxing everything.

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If players (or player characters) are chronically greedy then the consequences of that greed and having excessive wealth should be felt by them. Remind them in increasingly bad ways that wealth has its downsides. When you have a big wallet people are always trying to find ways to empty it, both illegally and legally.

Strangers, friends, family, business acquaintances, government officials, and even mythical creatures and supernatural beings will all try and separate the PC from their money in many interesting ways including:

  • a child begging for a penny in the street
  • theft in the street by a cut-purse
  • prostitutes drugging you and taking your wallet
  • priests insisting on your tithe to save your soul
  • a charity asking for donations (especially effective if the PC is GOOD)
  • merchants overcharging you because you can afford more
  • business proposals requiring investments
  • business partners embezzling funds
  • friends who want you to pick up the tab
  • girlfriends/boyfriends who want you to buy them gifts
  • wives/husbands who want more stuff
  • daughters/sons who want everything
  • premarital dalliances with illegitimate children
  • lawyers representing your spouse(s) in divorce suits
  • legitimate children who want their inheritance now
  • the out-of-control expenses of running your own home/estate
  • having your treasury vault burgled while you are away on an adventure
  • nobles above you "asking" you to join (and fund) their campaigns against neighboring countries.
  • running your own campaign to become leader of your own country
  • defending your country from attacks by neighbors
  • defending your country from rebels trying to overthrow you
  • a dragon taking your gold and destroying your home
  • a demigod demanding tribute for all the success they have helped you with
  • and of course the ubiquitous tax collectors at every step of the way

This list is by no means complete, but it should give you some ideas. When the player finally says "Why is everyone always taking my gold?" your mission will be accomplished. :)

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My solutions for dealing with the role-playing aspects and keeping the non-greedy players happy would be fairly different.

For the role-playing, having a greedy character is role-playing. From your example it sounds like the problem is that you are going for heroic high fantasy and greedy characters aren't fitting very well into the genre.

A solution has a lot to do with the tastes of everyone at the table, and finding some compromise or clever plot that has something for everyone.

Personally, what you described wouldn't bother me too much. It doesn't stretch the conventions of the genre that much, and seeing what moral choices players make with their characters is something I find interesting.

I would actually test how greedy they've decided to be. There's someone passed out from drink, wearing expensive clothes. No one is around. Do they rob him? They are trying to deliver something quickly for a large bonus payment and an isolated farmer's young girl has wandered of - will the ranger track her down? If not, they may have to knock the frantic farmer out just to get out of there. The family only settled there a year ago and are struggling to make it economically, so he has nothing to pay with, though he will offer next years seed corn and his farming implements if it will help.

I don't like to punish the characters for making immoral choices, because then it basically isn't really a decision ("let's just help the farmer, there's always some kind of reward"). I would have realistic consequences though if the characters develop a reputation. I might a moment where an NPC appears to be giving them a hook to a new adventure, when a friend comes by and says "don't even bother talking to them. They wouldn't give a dying man a drink of water if he couldn't afford it". If things got far enough, at some point I might have a traditional heroic character come after the players, peasants scurrying around hiding their possessions as the party approaches, and everyone generally treating the party as thieving, dangerous scum.

On the other hand, if there were players at the table trying to do heroic high fantasy heroes and this was ruining things for them, I might try to mollify them by keeping them up with the other characters in terms of loot. Though at that point it would probably be time for a "what kind of game do we want to play here" discussion.

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  1. Use PC greed against them:

If players keep trying to swindle lords for more than the offered amount, they're going to build up a reputation. Lords don't like spending money and definitely don't like it when their original offers are taken lightly. Also, lords talk. Adventurers who keep asking more and more out of lords are going to build up a reputation for being costly and as such should find themselves running out of work quickly in their current realm in exchange for cheaper adventurers, or worse. (Believe it or not, they're not the only skilled players in the world). Ask the wrong lord for too much, and they may find an welcome party from an assassin's guild as its cheaper to pay someone to kill them then it is to actually pay them. (Kill the lord or attack him, and they may quickly find themselves being chased out of the kingdom, or worse this lord sets a personal vendetta and starts interfering in the party's activities).

  1. Carrying around too much gold attracts attention

Carrying gold in an age of starving peasants and needy nobles draws attention. Bandits, thieves, or envious lords who need that money to promote their ordeals see adventurers as a way to satiate their needs or further their own plots. The threats could become ever more threatening as the wealth grows.

  1. Greedy PCs may find themselves without a party

In addition to point 2, 'good' players should start to feel the strain of potentially leaving these greedy PCs if they are forced to kill good and innocent NPCs to protect their wealth. It's not a sin to break up a party because of bad chemistry and greedy PC's may find themselves lacking a party. This route is hard as you don't want to get blamed for it as the DM but offers the most realism in sense of dealing with greed and should be considered good roleplay.

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Don't offer them anything else

At the start of the quest, offer them a really small reward. When they ask for more, the character can explain it's impossible.

When they look for some other quests, they find there aren't any.

Teach them that asking for too much much ruins relations with towns and groups and if they don't take the quests being offered, there is nothing else for them to do.

Steal the gold

One day they wake up and it's all gone. Give them a quest to recover (part) of it.

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How do I deal with players always (greedily) pushing for higher rewards?

You deal with that by giving them what they ask for.

First ask yourself if it truly breaks the game. If the game would be ruined, then just say no. Otherwise, and if it would make the game more fun for the players, then you could just say ok, since some players are happy to be ahead of the average gold for their level or the average power for their level.

If they are asking out-of-character, such as "Aw, that sword is only +2? That's barely an improvement, and the current sword has been used for 2 in-game years so my guy is attached to it. Can it be +3 instead?" then that player probably wants the game to be a bit higher powered.

I've been there, and I once offended a DM when he gave me a +1 sword minutes into the game at level 1, when I asked if it could be +3 or at least +2 instead, he said what he gave was more than generous, and the fight was in a town so I said "Ok, then I sell it immediately and buy a nice suit of armor instead" (the armor would have been just a normal, non-magic one, but a decent one). The DM was upset and insisted a +1 sword gift this early should be respected, and he did not care when I pointed out that all it would get me was a +1 on my attack and damage rolls, while the armor would increase my AC enough that it was way more useful.

For the in-character stuff, that is not even a problem. Amassing a fortune of gold is not a problem. This is something I usually do when I play. I often skip buying equipment that other people might consider "stepping stones". Buying a +3 sword when you already have a +2 sword really doesn't give you a large boost, and the average attack is only marginally better. Not worth it in my opinion. I might even skip more than that and just hoard my gold until something I think is worth my money comes along. After all, it is my money (well, my character's, who is an extension of me, not you).

The only problem I see with what you have described was merely in how rude the character was to the quest giver. But hey, depending on the disposition of the characters, maybe it was appropriate. Or, if you don't want to be strict about reacting to the exact way in which the player said it, then just overlook the rudeness and act as though the player asked it a nicer way.

For example, some players don't like roleplaying first person because of their social awkwardness and prefer roleplaying in the third person instead. Instead of "She's worth more than that! Give us 2000 gold and we'll call it a deal." they may say instead "My guy thinks that she is worth more than that and negotiates for 2000 gold." The first option sounds a bit rude, but the second option can't really be seen as rude because you don't really know what exactly the PC said or how they said it, only the type of interaction that was made.

If you treat the former as rude and punish the players for it, you might get a lot more of the latter, people not wanting to put the emotion and first person role-play into it. So you could just treat all instances of first person statements as if they are a generic command and not react to any possible emotional connotations involved, unless of course the emotional part is specifically intentional on the PCs part.

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